If I am a small dental laboratory and did some work for an out of town dentistwhorefuses to pay, what are my rights?

UPDATED: Feb 14, 2012

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If I am a small dental laboratory and did some work for an out of town dentistwhorefuses to pay, what are my rights?

I sent this work to him doing what he said on the Rx. He delivered this work to the patients with no problem. Are the patients in possession of stolen property since he will not pay for the work? What is the best way to collect my money? I have sent him a certified letter asking that my statement be paid by the 15th of the month. But no answer; he will not return my phone calls and I can’t get him to the phone.

Asked on February 14, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Alabama


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You have no recourse against the patients, who are innocent third party purchasers of the property. Also, there would be no criminal liability against the dentist--i.e. the property is not stolen to begin with--unless you can show that the dentist had no intention from the beginning of paying for the property; in that case, there might be criminal intent, but otherwise, if after the fact a dispute about the quality of the work, the amount owed, etc. caused the nonpayment, that is a civil, not a criminal matter.

Your recourse is straightforward: when not paid for work you did or goods you delievered, sue; you have a right to be paid as per the agreement between you and the dentist (i.e. as per what he agreed to pay, even if only implicitly by commissioning the work), and you may sue to enforce it. For several hundred dollars, consider suing in small claims court, acting as your own attorney (unless your business is a corporation or LLC; laypersons cannot represent corporatons or LLCs); for larger amounts, let an attorney sue for you.

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